Ah. One of our favorite stops on the PGA Tour this week -- the Farmers Insurance Open at breathtaking Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.
Players in the field will get in a round each at the North and South Courses before the 36-hole cut when weekend play moves over exclusively to the South.
Reigning PGA Champion Jason Day returns as the defending champ at Torrey, where his incredible 2014-15 season got its jumpstart. This venue was the first of Day's five victories a season ago.
If Day is to successfully defend, it won't be easy. As is always the case, there's a stellar field assembled at Torrey.
Here are the five players to keep an eye on.
5. Scott Stallings
Best finish in 2015-16 season: T9 at The RSM Classic
Reason to watch: It hasn't been a particularly great start to the new year for Stallings. After missing the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii, he withdrew from last week's CareerBuilder Challenge five holes into the second round citing illness. Provided he's feeling better now, I like his chances this week. Stallings won the tournament two years ago and came up just short in a four-man playoff a year ago. He's a horse for this/these courses.
4. J.B. Holmes
Best finish in 2015-16 season: T24 at Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: Just last year, Holmes was part of the four-way playoff at Torrey and wound up tied for second. He's coming off a strong season that included seven top-10 finishes, highlighted by a win at the Shell Houston Open. A T24 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions -- a short field -- left something to be desired, but I expect Holmes to bounce back this week.
3. Rickie Fowler
Best finish in 2015-16 season: Fifth at Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: Man on fire. But is he too tired to factor in this week? We'll see. After finishing fifth at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Fowler had a week off before traveling to Abu Dhabi where he won a week ago against a strong field that included Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. He traveled 18 hours to get to California on Monday and he'll be ready to tee it up Thursday morning. You've got to think that's going to take a toll on the body, but with the way Fowler has played the last two years, it wouldn't be wise to think he can't overcome a little jet lag.
2. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2015-16 season: Third at CareerBuilder Challenge
Reason to watch: A week ago, I couldn't have imagined including Mickelson on this list. Silly? Perhaps, considering he's won this tournament three times in the past. But, let's face it, Lefty hasn't been at his best the last couple of years. However, we saw a spark last week in La Quinta. Could Mickelson be on the verge of a monster year in his mid-40s? Last week's third-place finish was a remarkable start. And this week, there's probably no one in the field who has played the courses more than Mickelson. He hasn't won at Torrey since 2001. Might he remedy that this week? Don't count him out.
1. Jason Day
Best finish in 2015-16 season: T10 at Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: He hasn't played a ton since the end of last season, but given the way he finished, I'm not ready to omit Day from any "favorites" list in the foreseeable future. He's earned that. It also doesn't hurt that Day is the defending champ at Torrey -- the win that really got things started a year ago. He'll be in the mix right until the end this week.
EDITOR'S NOTE: We learned after this post that Day's status was in question for the Farmers Insurance Open. Due to illness, Day was forced to withdraw from Wednesday's pro-am, but there was no news as to whether he'd be pulling out of the tournament.
SLEEPER PICK: Paul Dunne
Reason to watch: Dunne, an Irishman, is playing this week on a sponsor's exemption. Does the name ring a bell? Before turning pro last year, Dunne qualified for the Open Championship as an amateur and made a lot of noise at St. Andrews. When he shot 66 in the third round, he was tied for the lead at 12 under, becoming the first amateur since 1927 to lead the Open after 54 holes. He faded to a tie for 30th in the final round after a 78 playing in the final group, but certainly made a mark. I'm interested to see how he plays this week.
WINTER GARDEN, Fla. -- The PGA of America officially opened the celebration of its Centennial Tuesday with a ceremonial tee shot featuring representatives from the Association’s 41 nationwide PGA Sections. The PGA members were joined by 41 junior participants in the PGA Junior League Golf program from Greater Orlando.
The group tee shot took place at the annual PGA Merchandise Show Demo Day, hosted at the Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge in Winter Garden, Florida. Thousands of attendees reviewed and tested the industry’s latest golf equipment, which will be displayed at the 63rd PGA Merchandise Show, opening Wednesday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.
The ceremonial tee shot reflected the PGA’s year-long campaign, “ThxPGAPro,” which pays tribute to the impact of PGA Professionals and their students. Golfers and employers everywhere are invited to upload videos, photos and messages throughout the year to tell their story in support of their favorite PGA Professional at ThxPGAPro.com or on their social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) using #thxpgapro.
Representing the PGA’s 41 Sections were:
Aloha -- Scott Ashworth
Carolinas -- Paige Cribb
Central New York -- Steve Nacewicz
Colorado -- Leslie Core-Drevecky
Connecticut -- Ron Dellostritto
Dixie -- Jason Polk
Gateway -- Benjamin Kent
Georgia -- Lauren Cousart
Gulf States -- Jabir Bilal
Illinois -- Don Wegrzyn
Indiana -- Keith Clark
Iowa -- John Valliere
Kentucky -- Ralph Landrum
Metropolitan -- Tom Henderson
Michigan -- Ron Osbourne
Middle Atlantic -- John Madden
Midwest -- Sean Dougherty
Minnesota -- Lori Money
Nebraska -- Nathan Kalin
New England -- Allan Belden
New Jersey -- Andy Brock
North Florida -- Mike Lynch
Northeastern New York -- Anders Mattson
Northern California -- Brant Wilson
Northern Ohio -- Ronald L. DeJacimo
Northern Texas -- Tony Martinez
Pacific Northwest -- Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen
Philadelphia -- Elizabeth Granahan
Rocky Mountain -- Ron Rawls
South Central -- Barry Howard
South Florida -- Nevin Phillips
Southern California -- Tony Letendre
Southern Ohio -- Brett Slater
Southern Texas -- Matt Marino
Southwest -- DK Kim
Sun Country -- Josh Salmon
Tennessee -- Vikki Vanderpool
Tri-State -- Michael Papson
Utah -- Ryan Kartchner
Western New York -- Chris Kulinski
Wisconsin -- Paul LoCicero
PGA Junior League Golf participants from greater Orlando: Colin Ashworth, Grace Ayers, Faith Ayers, Marcelo Celi, Isabella Delbakhsh, Alimahdi Dewji, Matthew Exum, Mark Exum, Douglas Gugel, Tyler Hanshaw, Chandler Hawkes, Casey Henry, Jackson Holmes, Megan Ikeda, Anthony Johnson, Jason Kaiser, Bryan Kelly, Mara King, Ronnie Lane, Jonah Leach, Aaron Leach, Emma Lewis, David Martino, Collin McGavin, Davis Milhausen, Garret Milhausen, Carlye Moore, Alec Naft, Zevy Naft, Djems Narcisse, Darby Nuxol, Cole Pierce, Emma Roberts, Logan Roberts, Jabriel Smith, Jack Snedaker, Cameron Spellman, Colin Stokes, Adam Strecker, Justin Templeton.
OK, in terms of degree of difficulty, I'd have to imagine that holing a full-court putt on a basketball court -- given the speed and precision required to do so -- is a heck of a lot more difficult than draining a full-court shot with a basketball.
During the Franklin Pierce University Halftime Challenge at a basketball game on Jan. 23, student Brandon Knight attempted the putt from one baseline to the other (95 feet) with $500 on the line to a 3-inch hole -- that's 1.25 inches smaller than an actual golf hole, by the way -- to put toward airfare or books.
No problem for Knight (h/t Golf Channel):
Is it just me, or doesn't it seem a putt from that length to a hole cut that small should be worth more than 500 buckaroos in airfare or books? I don't know, what about something like a year's worth of class books from the bookstore, if not some kind of scholarship?
Franklin Pierce also won the game over Southern Connecticut State University, 81-79. Great day all around for Knight.
— President Andy Card (@PresidentCard) January 23, 2016
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Jan. 26, 2016) -- LPGA star Lexi Thompson was named an Official Ambassador for PGA Junior League Golf at the 63rd PGA Merchandise Show Outdoor Demo Day today. The announcement was made in conjunction with the kickoff to the PGA of America’s Centennial celebration and was televised live on the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive from Orange County National Golf Center in Orlando.
Thompson joins Rory McIlroy, Michelle Wie and Rickie Fowler as ambassadors for the youth golf program, owned and managed by PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America, that allows boys and girls ages 13 and under to learn and play the game in a fun, recreational setting.
The announcement concluded with Thompson hosting a clinic for more than 40 boys and girls from Orlando-area PGA Junior League Golf teams. The PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day is the world’s largest professional golf testing event. It takes place the day before the opening of the PGA Merchandise Show, an industry-only event held Jan. 27-29, at the Orange County Convention Center.
PGA Junior League Golf has experienced exponential growth over the last three years, with a nearly 100 percent increase in participation each year. Last year, 30,000 boys and girls played on 2,500 teams nationwide; 17,500 played on 1,425 teams in 2014; and 9,000 played on 740 teams in 2013.
“I’m honored to join Rickie, Rory and Michelle as a PGA Junior League Golf Ambassador,” said Thompson. “I was so lucky to grow up playing golf surrounded by great mentors. Now, I want to help grow the game for the next generation of golfers, helping provide them with all the opportunities I had.”
In 2007, at only 12 years old, Thompson became the youngest female player to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. In 2014, Thompson earned her first major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Thompson hails from a golf family with two brothers also playing competitively: Nick, who plays on the PGA Tour, and Curtis, a COBRA PUMA GOLF staffer playing the Web.com tour. She has also made a name for herself in the fitness world with features in Shape Magazine and Self Magazine, among others.
“We’re thrilled to have Lexi join a prestigious group of Official Ambassadors for PGA Junior League Golf,” said PGA President Derek Sprague. “Lexi is undoubtedly a role model and inspiration to our future generations of golfers, and having her on board is a great way to kick off another participation record-breaking year in 2016.”
Through PGA Junior League Golf, kids learn the game under the direction and instruction of PGA/LPGA Professionals who serve as Team Captains. Much like other league sports, kids wear numbered jerseys and play on teams with their friends.
The primary focus of PGA Junior League Golf is on the recreational and developmental nature of regular season matches, held during the summer, for golfers of all abilities. Teams play 9-hole matches in a popular two-person scramble format, where Team Captains can substitute players every three holes so that all golfers can participate.
Following the regular season, 10-player all-star teams comprised of a combination of players in each league are assembled, who move through sub-regional and regional championships. Eight regional champions advance to the PGA Junior League Golf Championship—won by Team California last year at Disney’s Palm Course at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2016) -- The PGA of America, one of the world’s largest sports organizations, begins a 100-day celebration of its Centennial on Jan. 26, at the golf industry’s largest forum, the 63rd PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.
Founded April 10, 1916, in New York City, as the first nationwide all-professional golf association, the PGA of America has grown from its original 78 members to more than 28,000 men and women professionals today. Thanks to the work of these professionals, the PGA is recognized as the industry leader in growing participation in a game that engages millions worldwide.
“We celebrate our Association’s remarkable first century by focusing on our most important asset – PGA Professionals and the exceptional work they do in the business, teaching and playing of the game, all to elevate the enjoyment of golf,” said PGA President Derek Sprague. “Throughout this Centennial year, the PGA will share the passion and pride of PGA Professionals along with heartwarming stories of inspiration. Together, our Association will also look forward to the next 100 years, improving education and employment opportunities for our members and nurturing the next generation of golfers.”
The PGA Centennial includes the debut of #ThxPGAPro, a grass-roots platform where golfers from all levels of the game can share stories about and express gratitude for their own PGA Professional; how they mentored and influenced their lives, through personalized video, photos and messages that are posted on ThxPGAPro.com. Tributes also can be made through social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) using the hashtag #thxpgapro. While the Centennial celebration is focused on 100 days, #ThxPGAPro campaign will continue throughout 2016.
The campaign includes public service announcements to be broadcast on NBC, CBS, Golf Channel, Turner and other broadcast partners, as well as social media outlets. To view, please visit thxpgapro.com.
Among other related activities at the PGA Merchandise Show:
• The PGA Centennial opens with a Ceremonial Tee Shot on Demo Day, Tuesday, Jan. 26, at the Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge in Winter Garden, Florida. Covered by Golf Channel on “Morning Drive,” the ceremony features PGA of America officers and representatives from the PGA’s 41 Sections, along with 41 PGA Junior League Golf participants from Greater Orlando.
• On Wednesday, Jan. 27, attendees at the 63rd PGA Merchandise Show will be encouraged to visit the central lobby where a “Walk through History” exhibit will focus on the personalities and significant events that shaped the PGA’s first century. Later that evening, a special reception in celebration of the PGA’s Centennial will be held in the Orange County Convention Center for all attending PGA Professionals and invited guests.
• The PGA Section Spotlight Series debuts Jan. 27, highlighting a different PGA Section for 41 days on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” program, click here for schedule.
Each profile features a “Get to Know the PGA Section” fact box and the Section’s signature program, which focuses on charitable, social and educational endeavors. The Section Spotlight Series begins with the North Florida PGA’s inspiring “Putting on Smiles” program, where PGA members give instruction to patients in a network of children’s hospitals. The series concludes May 4 with the Metropolitan PGA Section’s Met PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) program, which is conducted at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for the Montrose VA.
• PGA Centennial: Celebrating the History of the Golf Professional is a keepsake coffee-table-sized book written by PGA Master Professional Billy Dettlaff and edited by John Steinbreder. The official Centennial commemorative chronicles, as never before, the multi-faceted skills that have become synonymous with the PGA Professional. The PGA Centennial book is available by visiting pga.com/book.
• PGA Instruction Day, May 4 - The PGA Centennial 100-day celebration culminates at six sites nationwide (to be announced at a later date) that will host clinics featuring PGA Professional instructors. Golf Channel will transform each clinic into a live television event.
PGA of America Championships
Baltusrol Golf Club
Hazeltine National Golf Club
Trump National Golf Club
Olympia Fields Country Club
Olympia Fields, Illinois
Quail Hollow Club
Charlotte, North Carolina